Nottinghamshire kept up the pressure on the leaders by posting their highest ever score in Twenty20 to thrash Yorkshire by 53 runs.
England’s pace attack have found out the hard way that they cannot afford to be “lackadaisical” when they are bowling to Tillakaratne Dilshan.
Sri Lanka followed their hapless 82 all out in a remarkable innings defeat in Cardiff with 372 for three, in reply to 486, by stumps on a rainy third day of the second npower Test at Lord’s.
Dilshan’s share was a mighty, career-best 193 - and unless Chris Tremlett, Steven Finn and Stuart Broad shape up today the hosts could easily find themselves with a first-innings deficit in a match which is nonetheless probably headed for a draw.
Bowling coach David Saker referenced both the glow of Cardiff success, and the absence of injured pace spearhead James Anderson, as mitigating factors but not reasonable excuses for England’s problems.
“The danger for a cricketer is disrespecting the game,” he said.
“When you have good days, you sometimes become lackadaisical. If you do that in this game, it has a habit of biting you on the bottom pretty quickly.
“It’s more a subconscious thing - when you’re bowling a side out for 80, you think it’s just going to happen again.
“Cricketers and people in general sometimes take things for granted. I don’t think we did that; I just thought our execution wasn’t as good as it has been, and the opposition played very well.”
Anderson yesterday made it clear in his own Sunday newspaper column that he expects to be fit again in time for the final Test at the Rose Bowl.
On the evidence so far, England need him to be - and Saker confirmed: “We’ve got a programme in place and hope he can get enough bowling in to be put up for selection.
“We’re hoping to get him back, but I don’t think we should be hiding behind Jimmy’s absence here.
“We should be better than that. We set higher standards, and just to lose one player and bowl the way we did ... I don’t think that’s excusable.”
Saker did not try to pretend that England had bowled acceptably, especially in much-improved conditions .
“Over the last two days we’ve been nothing like ourstandards,” he said.